Samsung has been levied with a fine by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in Taiwan for their false praise/smear campaign. The “astroturf” commenting war saw Samsung receive suspect praise while competing devices — most notably from HTC — saw less than favorable reviews.
The fine, which is for $340,000, is nearly as insulting as the smear campaign itself. The ruling also saw a pair of marketing firms fined roughly $100,000 total for their part in the commenting/review process. While the ruling doesn’t necessarily list any competing manufacturer by name as a target, the FTC noted the whole astroturf initiative was meant to bring to light the “shortcomings of competing products.”
The practice of “astroturfing”, or paying for good reviews and comments, is not new. It’s probably more prevalent that we realize, too. The difference here is that Samsung was caught, and the depth of depravity in regard to slamming competing devices was thorough. Also troubling to the FTC was the “palindromic Samsung product marketing”, which seems to indicate Samsung had scripted reviews and comments handy.
Also interesting was the FTC’s claim that reviews “disinfected” negative reviews, which we can only surmise meant a blanketing of positive feedback to drown out the negativity. We’ve always known Samsung’s devices and practises were polarizing, but now we begin to wonder whether all that fervent support is paid for or not. We should also point out that, according to the FTC, the marketing firms hired by Samsung we’re directly responsible for the actions.